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Speaking with A Noise Within

Nov 10, 2013
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Michael Stone Forrest (Simonides) and Ensemble in Pericles, Prince of Tyre; photo by Craig Schwartz

A Noise Within co-founder Julia Rodriguez-Elliott holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Florida and a Master of Fine Arts from San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater. In 1991—with a mere $3,000 from her personal checking account—she and her co-founder, Geoff  Elliott, set an ambitious vision:

H-P:  What is the goal of A Noise Within (ANW)?

JG-R:  ANW’s primary goal is to bring the great classics to life and present them in a way that is bold and accessible to a modern audience. We produce these plays that are classics because they deal with universal themes and speak to the human condition and make them accessible to the public. I like to say that the work of ANW  is “up close and personal.” It’s intimate and the physical space that the plays live in is intimate in approach for each production. The goal is to make them relevant. ANW is a place to have a conversation with our community, using classical literature as the vehicle.

H-P:  How did you get involved in A Noise Within?

JR-G:  Co-founder Geoff Elliott and I have been involved from the very beginning. We received our training at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and once we graduated found that there were so few opportunities to perform the kind of work we had been trained to do. A Noise Within came out of an artistic need to connect with the great classics that had been part of our training.

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Jill Hill (Nell) & Mitchell Edmonds (Nagg) in Endgame; photo by Craig Schwartz

H-P:  I read that “the bodies are the storytellers.” Could you explain?

JR-G:  I think when people say all you need is “a board and a passion,” it’s true in its most primitive form. A great story and a great actor telling that story are intertwined and the body and physical life of an actor is central to that.

H-PWhere do you get your ideas for the plays?

JR-G:  When we choose a season, we look for a number of things:

–       Genres that we have not explored

–       Our company of resident artists, and plays and roles that would be interesting for them.

–       What is going on in the world? What are the kinds of things that we are preoccupied with as a community and what are some plays that thematically may address those issues? It’s about a four to five month process. We read a lot of material to come up with a season that is thematically linked.

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Elyse Mirto (The Actress) and Freddy Douglas (The Actor) in The Guardsman; photo by Craig Schwartz

H-P:   What have been your biggest challenges?

JR-G:  One of our biggest challenges to date was the Capital Campaign to find and build a permanent space to house ANW. It was an incredible mountain to climb with many seemingly insurmountable challenges. We are very persistent and had extraordinary support from friends who, like us, believed in the power of the work.

Editor’s Note:  Three years ago, ANW moved into a permanent building at 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, 91107.

H-P:  Did you always know you’d be successful?

JR-G:  We always believed in the power of the work. I think that very early in our development, we identified a need within our community for the kind of work we do and that encouraged us to continue to aspire to build an institution that would be committed to the classics for generations to come. It’s been an incredible journey with challenges and opportunities along the way.

Tickets are still available for ANW’s four remaining plays of the 2013 season. They include:  The Guardsman; Endgame; Pericles the Prince of Tyre; and A Christmas Carol. For details, visit ANoiseWithin.org.

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Alan Blumenfeld (Ghost of Christmas Past) and Geoff Elliott (Ebenezer Scrooge) with the cast of A Christmas Carol; photo by Craig Schwartz




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